Some would argue that I chickened out. Some would argue that I stayed strong. Whatever side of the “Did he buy it? Was it the one with the shark’s fin?” argument you fall on, know that I simply decided that because my car is running well and I commute about 5 miles a day, investing in a new ride was dumb. An extra $300 or $400 per month is some real cash–cash I can use to pay down debt, fix up my house, add to my savings or splurge on that life-size diorama of Chewbacca dry humping Han Solo I saw on Ebay.
I could even fix up my car a bit–crazy thought that it is.
Of course, don’t think I wasn’t tempted to consume the new auto. Frankly, new cars smell good. They feel good. They’re safer, get better mileage, are more reliable, emit fewer toxins and come with things like Bluetooth-enabled butt massagers.
But as much as I like all of these things, I am in the end more committed to my family’s future then my own velocity desires.
And I could always buy a car next month. Seriously, it takes like five minutes.
As of this moment–officially–I am obsessed with cars. My 13-year-old Accord, while still reliable and effective at transporting me from point A to point R, is showing its age. Whether I can strictly justify buying a new-to-me car based on the Accord getting a little long in the grill is up for debate. (In fact I’m debating both sides inside my head all the time even when I sleep it’s goddamned obnoxious I’m sick of it specs and photos and statistics and reviews just keep bouncing through my cranium inside outside all hours middle of the night early morning dusk dawn brunch second brunch arrrrgh!!) But the simple reality is that I want a new car, and so, I’m thinking about it a lot.
And so my brain requires input. And after a few weeks of car obsession I now know everything there is to know about every vehicle available that is not a truck or an SUV. (What about those Chevy’s they made in the late 00s that were both a truck and an SUV…the Avalanche I think…ha! They don’t make those anymore because they were crap and I’m fairly sure they contributed to the Great Recession.) Plus, we already have an SUV and I’m no huge fan of them in general. Now, what do I do with all this car information?
Probably, I’m sad to say, nothing. Because in the end, I’m cheap. I don’t mind saying it these days. I’m getting old, and so “cheap” just feels more natural. You can be nearing 40 and be cheap and it’s almost respectable. At 26 it was, perhaps, less than sexy. Of course, I bought that Accord at 26 and the damn thing still motors on and with an occasional wash and wax doesn’t look tooooo bad. And so I drive it. And it works. And I can spend my money on things like this.
It’s a time I look at with excitement as well as trepidation–gift-giving season. Ahhhhhhhh yeaaaaahhhhhhhh! When else can millions of Americans enjoy the sheer orgasmic beauty of percentage signs in bold fonts. 50%. 75%. 85%. All followed by another simple but bell-ringingly clear preposition: off.
When else can you buy something that you didn’t need for such a shockingly good price that the practicality of the purchase simply doesn’t matter. That’s my only explanation for things like $200 headphones. (Of course, that’s $200 before Black Friday!) Honestly, how loud can they get? Also, this thing is pretty cool.
I admit I participate to a certain degree. And I do love the idea of my wife or my kids opening something that makes them smile. It’s hard not to enjoy that. But most of us know that the American holiday tradition has gone a bit off the rails. Try not to enjoy that fourth flat-screen TV too much…
It’s a simple fact–I love rewards credit cards. Getting free antique pork products or eerily stylish mohair sweaters just for spending money on stuff I have to buy anyway just gives me a twitch of the girly giggles.
But the other simple fact is that when you use your rewards credit card for all of your shopping, as I do, you likely don’t have as good a gauge on your spending as you might otherwise.When that monthly statement arrives I always have a moment of…oh, oh, oh, oh, niiiiiiiice. Or perhaps more often…oh, oh, oh, oh, crap and a half shit goggles!
I may be earning a lot of free espresso-covered bacon, but I’m not sure it’s worth the stress. What do you think?
If you have tried to maintain a family budget month after month after month, then you understand the title of this post. No matter how careful you are at managing your monthly budget, inevitably an unexpected expense will pop up and attempt to destroy it.
Birthdays are a good example. You’d think it would be easier to predict those but somehow they surprise me every year.
Other typical budget assassins include:
- dogs who have eaten shameful, shameful things
- exposed toothy places
- cars that not only require four tires, but four whole tires
- extraneous vacation expenses (bail money, toxicology reports, etc.)
- cell phones that attempt to sky dive, swim or run away with an attractive and/or swarthy stranger
- this thing
Of course, you can never anticipate everything that you may have to spend money on. And even your “miscellaneous” budget line item can’t account for all the possibilities. That’s why having some kind of emergency fund is so critical. Even if it’s small at the beginning, you have to save up a “beyond the budget” slush fund.
If nothing else, your puking pet will thank you.